Summary: One man once asked a number of important men: "What is the meaning of life", and nobody seemed to have an answer. But Proverbs 16 does. What does this passage tell us about living a life that is fulfilling and filled with God's blessings?
OPEN: I’d like you to sing the first verse of Amazing Grace with me:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.
This morning, I want to focus on one phrase in that great hymn: I once was lost, but now I’m found.
Have you ever been lost?
Lost is generally not a pleasant place to be.
ILLUS: When I first got to Logansport I had to be in Monticello one day (a town due West). By the time I got to Winamac (a town to the north) I realized I was going the wrong way. A trip that should have taken me about 20 minutes ended up costing me nearly an hour and a half.
I was frustrated and angry with myself.
Preparing for this morning’s sermon, I went on Facebook and asked people on a couple of the groups I’m part of there, to share of times they got lost and how they felt when it happened. Amongst their stories, these two stood out:
• I remember as a child being separated from my mom in a large dept. store. It was terrifying not knowing who to turn to or who to trust. (John Murphy)
• When our oldest boys were little (pre-cellphone/gps days) I got us lost in Louisville due to misunderstanding some construction signs. We ended up in what most of us would call a "bad neighborhood." No working streetlights, few working traffic lights, every stop sign vandalized, boarded up buildings, angry faces staring at us at every corner... Though I tried not to show it, I began to feel the terror rising up within me... What if a group decided to surround our vehicle? What if we ran out of gas or broke down here? I was so frightened, I would not even attempt to stop and ask for directions - I just kept moving... When I finally caught the glimpse of that red, white, and blue interstate sign a few blocks away, I was so relieved I almost burst out crying. (Scott Gamel)
Being lost isn’t generally fun. It can be annoying, unpleasant, and even scary.
You’ve lost your directions…
You can’t get your bearings
You might sense that you’re in danger… (like that guy in Louisville).
And you might get this horrid suspicion that you’ll NEVER get out of that situation.
ILLUS: It feels kind of like the story of a man who was walking thru a graveyard at night, when he fell into an empty grave. Startled, but unhurt, he tried climbing out of the hole… but each time, the earth crumbled in his hands and he fell back into the grave. So he just sat down in a corner to wait for help to come.
A couple of hours later, a drunk comes stumbling thru the cemetery and fell into the grave. He tried jumping and clawing and climbing his way out… but to no avail.
The other man watched this for a few moments, and then quietly said
“You’re never going to get out of here.”
(pause) But he did.
There’s something scary about being so lost you feel trapped in hole from which you’ll never get out.
ILLUS: About 50 years ago, man named Hugh Morehead – and he had a hobby. His hobby was writing to famous philosophers, scientists & authors and asking them one question:
"What is the purpose of life?"
And what was depressing was that none of Moorhead`s correspondents could really tell him what the meaning of life was.
* Joseph Heller, the author of “Catch-22” wrote, "I have no answers to the meaning of life and I no longer want to search for any."
* Isaac Asimov wrote back, "As far as I can see there is no purpose to life."
* Famous American Psychiatrist Albert Ellis said, "As far as I can tell, life has no special or intrinsic meaning or purpose."
* American Philosopher Thomas Nagle, "I'm afraid the meaning of life still eludes me."
* Nietzsche said: “Life is an unprofitable episode that disturbs an otherwise blessed state of non- existence”
* Karl Jung, the Austrian psychiatrist, wrote, "I don't know what the meaning or the purpose of life is but it looks like as if there were something meant by it."
Now, as you can tell from their comments, these people had no idea if life any purpose or value or “direction”. And people who have no direction in life are literally “lost.”
And you know, there are lots of people in this world are the same way. Life has no direction, no purpose. These folks can end up feeling really… lost. Like they’re trapped in a hole from which they’ll never get out.